Results for category "Film Reviews"

Monster’s University ****

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Run Time: 110mins Cert: U

A direct prequel to the original “Monsters Inc”, the movie tells the story of how Sully (John Goodman) and Mike (Billy Crystal) met and came to work in the factory.

 

The film begins when Mike (Crystal) visits the factory on a school trip and decides he wants to become a scarer. Years later, Mike begins studying at Monsters University where he meets Sully (Goodman), a monster with an established family history.

 

The story is enjoyable and relates to the original while still providing a good level of suspense to the audience. Throughout the movie, Mike and Sully experience the highs and lows of University life and have a turbulent relationship prior to joining forces.

 

Both Goodman and Crystal give great performances as the lead characters. The supporting cast includes Steve Buschemi as Randy and Helen Mirren as Dean Hardscrabble, both of whom also perform to a high standard.

 

The animation is top class and looks great in 3D. The soundtrack is also fun and appropriate to the film.

 

While “Monsters University” is not as good as the original, it is an entertaining and fun movie that ties things up nicely.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Behind The Candelabra ****

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Run Time: 118 mins Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Directed by Steven Soderbergh, “Behind The Candelabra” tells the real life story of pianist Liberace and his relationship with Scott Thorson.

 

The film begins in 1976 when Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) meets Bob Black (Scott Bakula) in a bar. The two men become friends and Bob takes Scott to see Liberace (Michael Douglas) perform in Las Vegas. After being taken backstage to meet the musician, Scott forms a friendship with him and accepts his offer to work as his companion and personal assistant. This leads to a relationship between them, which the movie follows from start to finish.

 

Over the next few years, Scott and Liberace embark on a relationship that is intense and somewhat bizarre from the pianist’s side. While it’s clear he has sexual feelings for Scott, his desire to adopt the young man as his son leads the audience to question what he really wants. In the early part of the film he showers Scott with expensive presents and buys him a house nearby, saying this will give him security. As things go downhill, Scott is reminded of the gifts when he expresses dissatisfaction and the house is eventually taken back.

 

From the outset it’s obvious Scott has genuine feelings for the older musician and will go to great lengths to please him. This is particularly apparent when he agrees to undergo plastic surgery to make him look more like his partner. He is also led down the path of drug addiction by Dr Jack Startz (Rob Lowe) who convinces him that a cocktail of drugs known as “The California Diet” will make him more attractive. While it appears to work initially, things go pear shaped as Liberace craves attention from other men and Scott becomes dependent on drugs.

 

Despite it being a biopic, there is a lot of comedy throughout the film. Michael Douglas is entertaining and camp as the lead character. Sporting a dark wig and spectacular outfits he bears a strong resemblance to Liberace and adapts his voice to the role which adds both realism and comedy to his performance.

 

Out of all the actors, Matt Damon is the one that truly shines in this movie. Throughout his transformation from the young animal trainer who dreams of being a vet to the trophy boyfriend that will do anything to keep his famous lover happy, he gives an enjoyable and deep performance as Scott. This makes the audience care about the character and despite knowing the outcome in advance, the audience is likely to feel disappointment when things don’t work out.

 

The supporting cast perform well with Dan Aykroyd appearing as Liberace’s manager and Rob Lowe as his plastic surgeon. His image will make the audience laugh while providing a realistic portrayal of an individual obsessed with enhancements. Scott Bakula also gives a good performance as Bob, the man who introduces the main characters. Apart from Debbie Reynolds’ role as Liberace’s mother and a brief appearance by Scott’s foster mother, there are no women to be seen.

 

Overall “Behind The Candelabra” gives viewers an insight into the final years of Liberace’s life whilst remaining interesting and fun throughout.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Big Wedding **

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Run Time: 89 mins              Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: With an all star cast, “The Big Wedding” shows the audience what happens when a dysfunctional family gets together for a wedding.

 

Set in a small American town, the movie begins when Ellie (Diane Keaton) arrives at the house lived in by her ex husband Don (Robert De Niro) and his long term girlfriend Bebe (Susan Sarandon). It is revealed she has come back for the wedding of she and Don’s adopted son Alejandro (Ben Barnes) and his fiance Missy (Amanda Seyfried), who are seen meeting with a rather comic priest (Robin Williams) prior to their marriage.

 

At the same time, Ellie and Don’s oldest child Lyla (Katherine Heigl) arrives on the maternity ward where middle child and 30-year-old virgin Jared (Topher Grace) works as a doctor. Despite her fainting at the site of the babies, she and Jared head for dinner with the rest of the family and a series of comic but cringeworthy events begins.

 

Since his biological mother is arriving from Colombia and is a devout catholic, Alejandro requests his parents pretend to still be married. This results in a fallout between Don and his girlfriend Bebe, and some particularly ludricrous scenes as the family attempt to hide her existence. While the main arc does provide amusement, it just seems ridiculous from start to finish.

 

Other subplots within the movie include Jared’s quest to lose his virginity and Lyla’s infertility. Attempts by the writers to give either of the siblings depth fail miserably and while neither Grace nor Heigl is unpleasant to watch, both their stories feel somewhat like a bad soap opera mixed with a sketch show.

 

While De Niro, Keaton and Sarandon are entertaining enough to watch, none of them seem to put a lot of effort into playing their characters. Robin Williams gives a very good comic performance as Father Monighan but is under utilised while Amanda Seyfried basically reprises her “Mamma Mia” character. With a big name cast like this, performances are disappointing. However this is more down to a weak story and poor character development than the actors themselves.

 

Overall, “The Big Wedding” is disappointing. Despite a well known cast and amusing premise, the film has very little story and feels more like a stage play.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Fast & Furious 6 ***

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Run Time: 130 mins Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Following the revelation that Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) is alive and working for master criminal Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his team of are hired by Agent Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to rescue her and foil Shaw’s plans.

 

After finally being successfully rebooted with Fast Five, the never ending car chase franchise makes a return with mixed results.

 

The series has gone from being about racing and gang warfare to be being about heists and family. The biggest problem with this particular episode is that everything has been revealed in the trailer, apart from the scene in the credits. There is no surprises.

 

The storyline while formulaic is entertaining. It is set before Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift’s timeline. Having a gang going against another gang is a novel twist. Unfortunately there are just too many characters with underdeveloped stories. Evans villain is a victim of this as his bad guy is just plain dull with about as much charisma as he has useful henchmen.

 

While the Letty comeback seems like it is too easy a solution, the comedic sparring between Diesel’s team and The Rock is amusing. While the dialogue is full of terrible puns and catchphrases that seem to have been left over from an 80’s action movie.

 

The action sequences are probably the most exhilarating and exciting moments of this franchise, no matter how ridiculous the scenario (how long is a runway?).

 

Over the top, edge of your seat entertainment which is flawed, but fun.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

The Hangover Part III ****

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Run Time: 100 mins            Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: Following Chow’s escape from prison and the death of Alan’s father, the final installment in the Hangover trilogy takes the audience on another badly behaved road trip.

 

The movie begins when Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from prison in Bangkok while Alan (Zack Galifianakis) gets into a scrape involving a giraffe that results in a fatal heart attack for his father. Following the funeral, Alan’s friends decide to stage an intervention and persuade him to undergo treatment in a psychiatric clinic. Having agreed to this, Alan is on his way to the clinic accompanied by Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Stu (Ed Helms) when they are run off the road by Marshall (John Goodman) and his henchmen. It transpires Chow has stolen gold from Marshall and unless the guys can find Chow and his gold within three days, he will kill Doug.

 

In a similar manner to the previous installments, the main characters resort to outrageous and illegal stunts to find Marshall’s gold and get into sticky situations throughout the film. From their reunion with Chow to their return to Vegas where it all began, the story is entertaining and well written. While the audience may not laugh as hysterically at “The Hangover Part III” as they would have during the first two films, there are still some very comic moments.

 

The three leads give great performances and remain true to their characters. Zack Galifianakis in particular gives another wacky and amusing performance as Alan, while Cooper and Helms are enjoyable to watch as his loyal friends who once again embark on a crazy journey courtesy of Alan and Chow (Jeong). The supporting cast also perform to a high standard with the addition of John Goodman as scary mob boss Marshall, Melissa McCarthy as the pawn shop owner and the return of Heather Graham as Jade the stripper.

 

The film’s soundtrack is both fun and appropriate with music from Hanson, Billy Joel and Nine Inch Nails. A particular highlight is Ken Jeong’s performance of “I Believe I Can Fly” and while it’s obvious Zack Galifianakis doesn’t actually sing “Ave Maria”, it adds to the scene and fits the character.

 

Overall, “The Hangover III” is a good comedy that wraps up the trilogy nicely. While there aren’t many huge twists, it is far from boring and the ending does not disappoint.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Mud ****

 

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Run Time: 131 mins Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: While exploring an island in rural Mississippi, two teenage boys meet a mysterious man named Mud and help him reunite with his girlfriend.

 

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, “Mud” begins when teenage boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) discover a boat in a tree while visiting a small island near their home in Mississippi. On investigation they realise someone is living there and subsequently meet Mud (Matthew McConaughey). Mud tells them he is there to reunite with his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) so they can leave together. Feeling sorry for him, the boys decide to help Mud in exchange for a gun he promises them.

 

The story is deep and well written but seems to lose it’s way as it progresses. Although there are elements of action and suspense, it is more of a character driven drama than a thriller and is largely built on relationships rather than events. Towards the end there are a few twists but the ending is disappointing. On leaving the cinema, the audience are likely to wonder why the last few minutes were included as the writer had a perfect opportunity to end the movie on an ambiguous note but chose not to do it.

 

From the outset it is obvious there are different sides to Mud (McConaughey) and the viewer learns more about him throughout the film. His relationship with Juniper (Witherspoon) is central to the story but they only have one scene together. Witherspoon is very average in her role as Juniper. Her character is a woman that does what she wants regardless of the consequences for other people. This makes for an interesting love story which sees Mud risk everything for the woman he loves despite it being clear to the viewer that she only loves herself. Mud’s relationship with retired marine Tom (Sam Shepherd) is also interesting to watch. They have a father-son dynamic that is a recurrent theme throughout the movie.

 

Tye Sheridan gives a realistic portrayal of a teenager dealing with realities such as rejection and family breakdown. Throughout the movie, the viewer sees Ellis interact with a variety of people including his parents, best friend Neckbone, high school girl May Pearl and most importantly Mud. The relationships he forms with those around him are enjoyable to watch and give the character plenty of depth. Despite having a less significant role, Jacob Lofland also gives a good performance as Neckbone, a boy who has grown up without his parents and spends most of his time fishing with his uncle and exploring with Ellis.

 

Overall, “Mud” is an enjoyable film with a solid plot and well developed characters. Although at 131 mins it is a bit longer than necessary, the movie remains interesting and is worth watching.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Great Gatsby ***

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Run Time: 143 mins Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the movie tells the story of rich war veteran Jay Gatsby and his neighbour Nick Carraway.

 

The movie begins on Long Island, New York in 1922 when Nick Caraway (Tobey Maguire) a war veteran and University graduate, decides to rent a house there while working in the city. On moving there, he hears stories about his neighbour Mr Gatsby (Leonardo Dicaprio) which he is intrigued by. One night he is invited to one of Gatsby’s many parties and a friendship begins.

 

Of the two lead males, Dicaprio gives the stronger performance. He is both entertaining and believable as the title character. His love for Daisy (Carey Mulligan) is the root of everything he does and drives his desire to be rich and powerful.

 

Maguire on the other hand gives a rather dull performance as Nick. His character oesn’t do much except observe and assist Gatsby although his narration is good.

 

British actress Carey Mulligan gives a reasonably good performance as Daisy, Nick’s cousin and Gatsby’s lover. However the character is not particularly likeable. She doesn’t know what she wants and tries to have the best of both worlds. There are times when you feel sorry for her but as the story progresses this is less so.

 

While Daisy’s husband is not the most likeable character, Joel Edgerton gives a fairly good performance. The supporting cast also do a good job with one cast member in particular being unrecognisable until the very end.

 

Despite being set in the 1920s, the film contains modern day pop music as well as new covers of the era’s music. With songs performed by artists such as Beyonce and Florence and the Machine, the soundtrack is one of the movie’s strong points.

 

The 3D was very disappointing. Given that most of the movie’s scenes are at night, there is little room for 3D and the daytime scenes under-utilise it.

 

Overall “The Great Gatsby” is very average. While there are some good performances and a great soundtrack, the film feels a bit flat and drags towards the end.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

The Look Of Love ***

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Run Time: 101 mins Cert: 18

 

Synopsis: Directed by Michael Winterbottom, this quirky British biopic stars Steve Coogan as club owner and pornography king Paul Raymond.

 

Based on a true story, “The Look Of Love” begins in the 1960s when club owner Paul Raymond decides to venture into erotica. Over the next three decades, he acquires a large number of clubs and other businesses in Soho whilst enjoying a glamorous lifestyle.

 

While on the surface the film appears fun and slightly comic with its over the top sex shows and poppy soundtrack, there is a darker side to the story. The seemingly carefree, extravagant lifestyle that Raymond and those around him live is also one of deceit and manipulation.

 

Steve Coogan gives a comic and sleazy performance as the lead character but lacks depth. Throughout the movie, his only interests are money, sex and spoiling his daughter Debbie (Imogen Poots). While the relationship between Raymond and his daughter could have added depth to the story, it feels slightly superficial.

 

Poots gives a good portrayal of the spoilt daddy’s girl but there are a lot of gaps in Debbie’s story which make it difficult for the audience to understand what is really going on in her life. The film seems to jump from one stage in her life to the next without giving the viewer any explanation as to how she came to be there.

 

In terms of the other leads, Anna Friel gives a mediocre performance as Jean Raymond. Again there are gaps in the story in that the viewer doesn’t really get any explanation as to why their son Howard stayed with her while Debbie ended up with her father. Throughout the movie, Jean only appears sporadically and doesn’t really add much to the story. Tamsin Egerton, while entertaining and attractive, gives a somewhat cheesy portrayal of Raymond’s long-term girlfriend Fiona Richmond.

 

The soundtrack is fun and reflects the times. From the 60s pop to 70s disco music the soundtrack is one of the film’s strong points.

 

Overall “The Look Of Love” is entertaining however its lack of depth and various plot holes make it a three star movie.

 

Reviewed by Lesley Logan

Star Trek Into Darkness ****

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Run time: 131 mins Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Starfleet is under attack from vengeful terrorist John Harrison (Cumberbatch). James T. Kirk (Pine) must find and apprehend the criminal, before it is too late.

 

Director J.J. Abrams returns to the Captain’s chair of a franchise that was reinvigorated the last time he was at the helm.

 

For the first film Abrams not only made one of the best Trek movies in years, but he also made the series more interesting to non Trekkies too.

 

In this follow up, the overall tone is darker with some more comedic moments than the first film.

 

Without the weight of establishing how these characters met and their individual timelines, the filmmakers have concentrated more on exploring the actual dynamics of Spock and Kirk’s relationship. While ramping up the relentless action sequences.

 

This is a minor complaint about the overall structure of the plot. In that with so much going on within the set pieces, it feels like there is too much to focus on at one time. An over sensory meltdown of never ending battles.
On the other hand it never feels long and extremely fun.

 

The returning cast work extremely well together. Chris Pine gives Shatner a run for his money, while Zachary Quinto was born to play Spock. Simon Pegg’s Scotty has more screen time and also some of the best lines.

 

The biggest improvement has been with the villain of the movie. In the first film the character of Nero felt weak and underdeveloped. The same cannot be said of John Harrison. This character is complex and calculating.

 

Benedict Cumberbatch underplays Harrison which gives the character a sense of mystery which is essential for a plot full of twists. He has the larger-than-life presence to play the foreboding enemy that Kirk needs.

 

The writers have stuck closely to the original television and film series with this story. Towards the end of does feel like a bit of a parody of those versions.

 

Nevertheless most audiences will be enthralled with this latest entry of the the series. This film shows that J.J. Abrams is a fantastic choice for the next episode of the Star Wars franchise.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan

Iron Man 3 *****

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Run time: 130 mins Cert: 12A

 

Synopsis: Tony Stark (Downey Jnr.) finds his personal world destroyed by a new enemy called The Mandarin (Kingsley). A global terrorist who will stop at nothing to achieve world domination. Tony is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him.

 

Mismatched buddies, snow, bromance and Christmas, it must be another movie from writer/ director Shane Black. After making his debut feature with the clever Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, Black has decided to enter the world of superheroes as his follow up feature.

 

No mean feat, since Iron Man 2 was a complete train wreck with too many villains and dull set pieces. Thankfully the bad guys are anything but dull. While the action scenes maybe over the top, but they are exciting and fun at the same time.

 

The two villains in this instalment are Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley). Killian appears to be a rather one dimensional character, but Pearce plays the part with relish making this slimy, crazy baddie memorable.

 

With The Mandarin, Black has decided to go with an alternative version compared to the source material. In the comic books, the character is a kind of Ming the Merciless figure. Now he is a terrorist leader trying to bring terror to the west. Which works better for the film and with one great twist. Kingsley completely hams it up to the max in his performance.

 

In regards to the other characters, Pepper Potts (Gywneth Paltrow) is given more to do and even wears the Iron suit. Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) is given some of the funniest material. While Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Stark have more time to bond in a Lethal Weapon style relationship. Which is funny considering that film was Black’s first screenplay. Stark is more reserved in this film at the start, but this does not stop Robert Downey Jnr’s slick trademark wisecracks.

 

The actual plot flows between the general comic arc to a spy influenced narrative, which gives the movie a unusual but unique take on the genre. It takes elements from the Extremis comic-book storyline. There are more humour and twists compared to the previous sequel.

 

A much better movie than the previous film and a better script than last year’s The Avengers. If rumours are true and this is Downey Jnr’s last Iron Man film, then he has gone out in style. Stay till the end of the credits for an amusing scene that Marvel fans will get a kick out of.

 

Reviewed by Paul Logan